Specialized Roubaix Elite first ride review£2,100.00

Entry-level sprung road machine

Specialized’s radical departure from the norm with the Roubaix concept has, along with Trek’s similar dual-compliance Domane, really shaken up what makes an endurance bike.

Specialized Roubaix Elite spec overview

  • Weight: 8.75kg (58cm)
  • Frame: FACT 10r carbon
  • Fork: FACT 11r carbon
  • Gears: Shimano 105 50/34, 11-32
  • Brakes: TRP Spyre C with 160mm/140 rotors
  • Wheels: Axis Elite
  • Stem: Specialized 3D forged alloy
  • Bar: Specialized Hover Comp alloy
  • Post: Specialized CG-R carbon
  • Saddle: BG Phenom Comp GT
  • Tyres: 26mm Specialized Turbo Pro Gripton Blackbelt

Specialized Roubaix Elite frame and equipment

The Future Shock design, which places a tunable sprung suspension unit above the head-tube, adds around 20mm of controlled compliance. The cutting-edge design of the Roubaix frame, with super-low-slung seatstays, oversized seat-tube and a narrower-than-usual seatpost featuring the elastomer-infused CG-R head, make the back end of the new platform one of the most compliant I’ve tested.

To get the best out of it I’ve taken to raising the saddle height by half a centimetre to take into account the amount of compliance (or sag) you get the minute you get on board.

You’d be mistaken for thinking this all sounds a bit, well, leisurely. The new chassis — which shares the same frame as the Roubaix Expert and the same fork as the range-topping S-Works — gives you a smooth ride over normal roads and the confidence to keep up your pace when the surface turns rough. Yes, you could just use the Roubaix as a relaxed cruiser and enjoy smooth, long days in the saddle, but riding the bike hard really brings out the best in it.

Specialized’s Roubaix looks like it could be the bike of 2017
Specialized’s Roubaix looks like it could be the bike of 2017

When descending you can just concentrate on hitting the apex of a high-speed corner and not worry about rough surfaces, small potholes or other road battle scars pushing you off line or making you reach for the brakes.

The riding position is in the distance-cycling camp. But though the 1,011mm wheelbase is also in endurance territory, the steeper frame angles — parallel 73.5-degree — are much more racy.

The shallow rim is wider than most and suits the oddly sized 26mm tyres very well

At the front, it takes around 20 minutes of spanner work to switch between springs, and it’s well worth taking the time to explore the options.

The 11-32 cassette and 50/34 chainset is the ideal companion if you like to climb but aren’t necessarily the most talented at it. We can always rely on Shimano 105 to handle shifting duties without fuss or drama. The Roubaix’s 105 is matched to TRP’s cable-operated Spyre-C disc brakes, which are easy to set up and maintain and offer decent powerful braking whatever the weather, even if they are outclassed by hydraulics in overall feel and modulation.

The frame appears to have three bottle bosses on the down- and seat-tube. While you can fit bottle cages in a high or low position, the real reason they’re there is for the dedicated Fuelcell Aero Storage bag. This sits above the bottom bracket shell, offering easier access to gels and bars while riding than a traditional seatpack, and saving you from filling your jersey pockets.

Specialized Roubaix Elite ride impression

Specialized's Roubaix Elite
Specialized's Roubaix Elite

The Elite rolls on basic Axis disc wheels with 12mm thru-axles. The shallow rim is wider than most and suits the oddly sized 26mm tyres very well. The textured surface of the Turbo Pro tyres offers great all-weather grip and a supple casing enhances the Roubaix’s comfort.

We were hugely impressed with the high-spec Roubaix — equipped with Roval CLX32 wheels — but equally so by this more modestly specced model. The chassis is the star, and even with lower-spec wheels and brakes it’s still one of the best-riding bikes over poorer road surfaces when it comes to comfort and control.

Sharing a chassis with a model at twice the price means the Elite will grow with you and take plenty of upgrades for years to come.

Specialized Roubaix Elite early verdict

A clever, composed, controlled and comfortable endurance machine.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 188cm / 6'2''
  • Weight: 92kg / 203lb
  • Waist: 86cm / 34in
  • Chest: 112cm / 44in
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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